M2.03. Analysing the conditions relevant to the mentoring process at the workplace

4. Operational context of the employing organisation and working methods

Operational context
There is no one perfect model for every organisation. When designing a mentoring program it’s important to keep in mind and identify the main aspects of the employing organisation.

1. Goals. Are you developing tomorrow’s leaders? Or working on educating employees about certain procedures? Identify your key objectives.

2. Desired outcomes. What do you want the results to be? Improved performance now? Longer-term management skill development?

3. The methods to achieve the outcomes. For skills training, a month-long coaching program may be the method. For succession planning, perhaps a longer mentoring type of program will work better.

When deciding to employ mentoring please remember to consider the “Five Cs”:

Five Cs (free elaboration)

1. Contract: How directive does the organization want to be with the individual’s development? Are these voluntary programs or not?

2. Context: What are the business objectives to be fulfilled by the program? Stage of career development, succession planning, etc.

3. Culture: How credible are coaching and mentoring within the culture? Are senior executives available to serve as mentors? Do you have senior level support for your program?

4. Circumstance: What sort of budget does the organization have for talent development? Can the objectives just be outsourced to external coaches?

5. Content: What subject matter will be discussed within the mentoring relationships? Understanding the possible content will help determine the type of developmental dialogue to employ.

Identifying these parameters up front will help point you to the types of coaching and mentoring programs that will work for the employing organization.

Working methods

Although mentoring arrangements traditionally refer to a partnership between two people, other models have been developed over time reflecting the changing priorities and practices of the workplace. Responses to challenges such as capacity building, leadership development and quality improvement have led to the creation of a range of more creative approaches to mentoring. The following five models can provide a starting point. They are by no means exhaustive and can be adapted and evolved to suit other contexts and circumstances with two or more models operating within a single mentoring programme.

The five models are:
1. traditional one-to-one peer mentoring (one mentor/one mentee);
2. group peer mentoring (one mentor/one to four mentees);
3. two-by-two (two mentors/two mentees);
4. team peer mentoring (one or two experienced mentors from out with the team working with a group of mentees in the same work team);
5. E-mentoring.

2. Five Mentoring Models (free elaboration)

1. One-to-one peer mentoring (one mentor/one mentee): Mentee is matched with a dedicated mentor who will support their professional and personal development.

2. Group peer mentoring (one mentor/one to four mentees): A group of mentees meet regularly over a designated period of time, with the support of an experienced mentor. This type of mentoring can offer colleagues who lead a team and who may feel isolated, an opportunity to work together with peers on shared challenges and potential areas for development and growth. If there is a shortage of mentors within or across organisations, a mentor may work with several mentees, meeting with them as a group. This may also be the model of choice. It has the added bonus of allowing the mentor as well as the mentees to benefit from a wider pool of knowledge and experience. We recommend that mentors offer one-to-one sessions out with the group setting if requested.

3. Two-by-two (two mentors/two mentees): This model can provide opportunities for new mentors to work alongside someone with more experience in the role whilst offering mentees the option of one-to-one sessions with a mentor. It is also beneficial for mentees as they have a wider pool of skills and knowledge on which to draw.

4. Team peer mentoring (one or two experienced mentors from out with the team working with a group of mentees in the same work team): Team peer mentoring can involve a diverse group including experienced, well-established people as well as newcomers to the team. Newcomers will have the added benefit of ready access to networks that will offer support, important information, and contacts. A team environment with the same goals and objectives is ideal for mentoring. Members can support and help one another, ultimately making the entire team stronger. This is an opportunity for the mentors who provide this service to develop and demonstrate their leadership skills.

5. E-mentoring: In these times of increasing technological change and electronic communication, it is not surprising that web-based technology is being used to assist with mentoring and mentoring programs. E-mentoring relies on computer-mediated communication (CMC) such as email and other electronic communication technologies to enable the mentoring to take place.